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What do you do?

What do you do?

Have you ever noticed that your first response to this question from a stranger or new friend is to state the place you work or your profession such as doctor, dentist, lawyer, etc.?

Some people will even respond with answers like, “I am a full time student or I am currently between jobs”. The culture that we live in partly defines us by our vocations, places of business or the acceptable substitutes for a job or career.

Our automatic response to this question is a part of our expected social behavior that not having a quick answer creates a bit of an awkward situation. However, how should you answer this important question if you are in the process of starting a business, changing careers or even making a large life change?

How we answer the “What do you do” question goes straight to how we define ourselves as well as revealing our own confidence about who we are. When answering questions about who you are and what you do with a future qualifier attached leaves the door open that you will not become a restaurant owner or a piano teacher or whatever future state you are heading towards.

When I am working with personal coaching clients, who are starting a new season in their lives, I advise them to bring that future self into the present. I tell them that one of the best ways to get yourself to believe that you can change your profession or build yourself into whatever you want, is to answer the “What do you do?” question by stating that you are a writer or you are an exotic car broker.

By doing this little exercise, you will find that you will start thinking like a writer or a business owner or whatever it is that you are moving towards or becoming.

If perception is truly reality, then continuing to build the perception by verbal repetition to the people that you meet that you are an exotic car broker puts you on a path to finding those contacts that can help your business or career succeed.

This exercise will build up your confidence and is an important tool in moving from the dream of owning your own business or changing your career into making it a reality.

Think of the difference between someone who states, “I am a student studying law” compared to someone who states, “I am a lawyer in my final year of school”.

The first statement still has the possibility of the person not becoming a lawyer.

Someone who, in their mind is a lawyer who happens to be finishing their formal education makes the second statement.

Coach’s Wrap Up

Saying aloud to friends, family and new acquaintances what you do in the present tense, even if you are new at it, does not let you hide goal or your dream any longer. This proclamation suddenly makes you feel accountable to push harder to reach your goals.

So, what do you do?


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